It’s Oscar time — vote on the best football movie of all-time


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The annual Oscars will be awarded on Sunday night. But we at the Talk of Fame Network are going to open up the voting this week for the greatest football movie of all time.

Have you seen them all? Which one was the best? We’re asking our listeners and readers to tell us. Here are your eight options:

The Blind Side. The story of Michael Oher, a homeless African-American boy in Memphis who attended 11 different schools in his first nine years of schooling before being adopted by a white family, providing his life some stability. Oher went on to become an All-America football player at Mississippi and a first-round NFL draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2009.

Brian’s Song. The story of Brian Piccolo, who was the NCAA’s leading rusher at Wake Forest in 1964 but signed as a college free agent with the Chicago Bears. There he became rookie roommates and, eventually, best friends with Chicago’s first-round draft pick, Gale Sayers. They started in the same backfield, but in his fifth season, Piccolo was diagnosed with cancer and died less than a year later. The story documents their friendship.

Everybody’s All-America. A film rumored to be about former LSU All-American Billy Cannon. Dennis Quaid played Gavin Grey, the “Grey Ghost.” The movie tells the tale of an athlete’s tumble from the heights of college football to the depths of a professional career that evaporates through age and injuries. His personal decline continues with a failed marriage and failed business ventures after football.

Friday Night Lights. Billy Bob Thornton starred as Gary Gaines, the head coach of the Odessa (Texas) Permian Panthers. The movie chronicles the pressures of winning at a high school where state championships are expected. A key story line was running back Boobie Miles, the highly-recruited workhorse tailback who tore his ACL and did not play in the state title game, a loss to Dallas Carter.

Heaven Can Wait. Warren Beatty stars as a quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams, who are Super Bowl-bound. But he has an accident that leaves him near death and an angel takes his body to heaven. But he’s not supposed to die yet — so he is sent back to earth in the body of a millionaire, who buys the Rams with hopes he can quarterback the team in the Super Bowl. Bizarre plot but entertaining nonetheless.

Horsefeathers. The original football movie filmed in 1932 starring the Marx Brothers. The president of Huxley University (Groucho Marx) hires a couple of nincompoops (Chico and Harpo Marx) to help the school win a football game against its archrival. It’s is slapstick comedy at its best.

Knute Rockne, All-American. Pat O’Brien stars as Rockne, the legendary Notre Dame coach, and Ronald Reagon as George Gipp, the Gipper. The story documents how Rockne started off teaching at Notre Dame but moved into coaching and built the Fighting Irish into a national power. Gipp died at a young age, and the highlight of the movie comes when Rockne implores his team “to win one for the Gipper.”

North Dallas Forty. Based on a best-selling novel by former Dallas Cowboy Pete Gent, the movie chronicles the Dallas Bulls, a team that plays hard on and off the field. The movie stars Mac Davis as quarterback Seth Maxwell and Nick Nolte as his aging receiver, Phil Elliott, in the 1970s. Elliott is addicted to pain killers and struggles to hang on to his career by playing by his own set of rules.

Remember the Titans. Denzel Washington starred as Herman Boone, an African-American who became head football coach at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va. He coached a team that become racially integrated for the first time that season, and the film explored how he dealt with the pressure cooker that was his first season. Based on a true story, the movie chronicles the friendships forged in a championship season.

Rudy. The story of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, a blue-collar kid from Illinois who dreamed of playing football at Notre Dame, went to junior college to get his grades up, walked on the football team and finally got to play in the final game of his senior season. He played one defensive snap in that game against Georgia Tech – the final snap of the game – and sacked the quarterback. He was carried off the field on the shoulders of his teammates. Also based on a true story.
Vote now!

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23 Comments

  1. February 22, 2017
    Reply

    Rudy was my runaway pick. But I never realized how many good football movies were out there to choose from!

    • February 22, 2017
      Reply

      Horsefeathers hysterical, but I go with Brians Song or Everybodys All-American. Terrific.

  2. February 22, 2017
    Reply

    North Dallas Forty is not listed as a choice to vote on.

    • February 22, 2017
      Reply

      Just saw that. Working to make change. Thx, James.

  3. Martin Sexton
    February 22, 2017
    Reply

    I picked Rudy mainly because there will always be a soft spot in my heart for someone who is told, “You’re 5 foot nothin’, 100 and nothin’, and you have barely a speck of athletic ability.” Reminds me of someone I knew back in the day…except I didn’t even have “barely a speck of athletic ability.”

  4. bachslunch
    February 22, 2017
    Reply

    YMMV, but for me it’s tough to beat vintage Marx Brothers.

    Not that they belong among the choices, but there are two fun Three Stooges shorts with prominent football scenes, “Three little pigskins” and “No census, no feeling.” The formers features a young Lucille Ball.

    • February 22, 2017
      Reply

      Only Marx Bros. movie that is better may be A Day at the Races. Loved the Stooges, but dont know of those scenes youre talking about. Been a long, long time since I saw them.

      • bachslunch
        February 23, 2017
        Reply

        My all-time favorite Marx Bros. film is Duck Soup, with Monkey Business, Horsefeathers, and Animal Crackers right behind. Also love A Day at the Races and A Night at the Opera, but a fast-forward button to get past the purely musical numbers and on to the comedy is very, very helpful.

        The Cocoanuts (their first film) has some very worthy scenes, but has its misfires as well. From Room Service and past, they just don’t cut it for me despite a few good bits here and there (the song “Lydia the tattooed lady” from At the Circus, for example).

  5. Martin Sexton
    February 22, 2017
    Reply

    As I think about this, and I am probably in the minority, but I also liked a movie not mentioned here, “Invincible.” The true story of Vince Papale and his once in a lifetime opportunity of playing for his hometown Philadelphia Eagles. Besides, any movie that starts out with Jim Croce’s “I’ve got a Name” already has me in its corner.

    • February 22, 2017
      Reply

      Thought about that. I enjoyed We Are Marshall, too. Thought it was poignant. But this is pretty good list. Plenty of decent ones. Never thought there was a really great football movie, however. Plenty of great boxing ones. And baseball, with Fear Strikes Out one of the best (Field of Dreams, the Natural). But football? For some reason, no real A-plus flicks.

    • February 22, 2017
      Reply

      Underrated film. Better than I expected. I went assuming it would be not terribly well written or acted. Low expectations probably lifted it but not bad.

  6. Coach Shipp
    February 22, 2017
    Reply

    Highly under-rated flick staring Alan Alda…Paper Lion about sportswriter George Plimpton is my personal favorite.

    • February 22, 2017
      Reply

      Paper Lion was pretty good. Plimpton was a better actor than he was a quarterback.

  7. Rich Quodomine
    February 23, 2017
    Reply

    Brian’s Song got my vote. Yeah, I get it, weepy emotional kick in the guts, but … so good, and so well acted. Remember the Titans would have been #2 on my vote, but all of these films are worthy.

    Random mention but Goofy movie that I love but isn’t anywhere near the best: Necessary Roughness.

    • February 23, 2017
      Reply

      Yowza! Never thought of that, Rich! Not surprising. Youre usually a step ahead. Great one. Any more obscure choices? Maybe that should be the list for next year. Best Football Movies Nobody Would Consider.

  8. Martin Sexton
    February 23, 2017
    Reply

    Completely forgot about “Necessary Roughness.” Scott Bakula “quantum leaps” into an aging college QB. Ok, not really but I did like the movie.

  9. Martin Sexton
    February 23, 2017
    Reply

    Oh, and let’s not forget “Little Giants” with the “annexation of Puerto Rico” and Alca Seltzer intimidation. Oh, and a bunch of cameos
    by NFL greats.

  10. February 23, 2017
    Reply

    1) Any Given Sunday 2) Invinceable

    • February 23, 2017
      Reply

      Really surprised no love for Everybodys All-American. Fabulous movie.

  11. Kevin Gregory
    February 23, 2017
    Reply

    I’d cast a vote for The Longest Yard (the original).

    • February 24, 2017
      Reply

      Ah, yes. A great one. How about The Best of Times? Hysterical.

  12. Don R
    February 24, 2017
    Reply

    The original Longest Yard is better than everything on the list

  13. Rich Quodomine
    February 24, 2017
    Reply

    As long as we all agree that the remake of “the Longest Yard” and “Gus” are awful – the latter was bad even for a kids’ movie. Still can’t figure if I like “the replacements” or not – I enjoyed it. Also, FWIW, Jerry Maguire is a very good movie, though it’s not purely a football film, and it did win Cuba Gooding, Jr. an Oscar

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